By on May 20, 2015

2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara rear side yellow

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler will add diesel and an eight-speed automatic to the mix, but a fully aluminum body is no longer on the agenda.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said the upcoming Wrangler would not go the same route as the new Ford F-150, opting instead for specific components — hood, tailgate, doors et al — to be made from the alloy, Automotive News reports. Marchionne said the decision to move away from a fully aluminum model came down to comparison costs, and ease of production:

There will be a large portion of that vehicle that will be aluminum. It will not be all aluminum. We’ve run the numbers and we’ve simulated mileage and the impact. Because of the difference in cost — not just of the material but the actual assembly process — I think we can do almost as well without doing it all-aluminum. I think we can get very close.

Were the 2018 Wrangler to have stayed the course, the Jeep facility in Toledo, Ohio would have needed a complete overhaul to manufacture and assemble the vehicle, following a similar action by Ford with the F-150 at its Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Mich. The Blue Oval invested $843 million to retool the plant and nearby operations, a process taking 10 weeks to undergo; FCA’s new plan would eliminate the need for such action.

[Photo credit: Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars]

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34 Comments on “2018 Jeep Wrangler Not Going Fully Aluminum After All...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    Excellent news, the wrangler is the only vehicle the journalist haven’t destroyed, even after loud whining on the less than BMW ride. Still hopeful they change their minds on the windshield, the sloped windshield from removing the folding feature would really hurt the “Jeepness” of it.
    Steep sloped windshields suck.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Steep, sloped windshields may suck, but something has to be done to improve the aerodynamics of it. More rake won’t really hurt it and could certainly help visibility when it comes to having to look upwards to see traffic lights or check clearances, while the folding windshield has become passé… very few ever get folded any more even by hard-core off-roaders. I’m going to expect more rake to the grill too, and probably the fenders. True, it will change the look somewhat, but the Wrangler isn’t just an off-road car any more; a lot of people use them as daily drivers and they really need to improve the fuel mileage. More gears in the tranny will help, but for the Wrangler now it’s almost all about the aerodynamics. The only thing I don’t want to see it lose is the removable/soft top. If they weld that thing down, it truly will lose what it meant to be a Wrangler/CJ.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        The mileage isn’t even secondary to many of these buyers, getting 20 MPG on something that doesn’t look like a jellybean POS, is great for many.

        Fiat is risking a lot to gain minimal fuel gains, it’s not a stretch to say killing the wrangler could irreversibly hurt the brands image, as is the wrangler is the only offroad capable Jeep, take away that you have some odd looking crossovers.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          I agree completely. If you don’t want a wrangler, buy something else. Better to sell 20% less wranglers than kill the proverbial goose.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          At the moment we simply don’t know what the new model will look like nor do we have any idea what the fuel economy will be. What I do know is that they aerodynamics right now give it roughly 20mpg highway (EPA) and CAFE pretty much demands that the economy be improved. I can bet that the 8-speed automatic will improve the economy a bit by offering another two gears of overdrive and pull the engine rpm down somewhat at highway speed over the current 6-speed stick. I think even pulling the revs down to about 1700-1800 could give almost 10% back on the highway with no other changes. Improve the aerodynamics will also improve that highway mileage. On the other hand, dropping 500# or so of weight could have a notable effect on in-town mileage while a lower first gear and tighter gear ratios could improve acceleration and economy. Right now, the shift between 3rd and 4th on my ’08 stick is a huge jump in gear ratio, dropping revs almost 1200 rpm and putting the engine below its power band unless you’re pushing it. I typically shift at 3K which means 4th hits at about 1800 while the power band hits at about 2100. 5th gear lets me cruise just below 50mph at 2K rpm while 6th runs 2100 at 60. I definitely see the need for more and tighter gearing.

          But the changes to the Wrangler will be manyfold; aerodynamic, engine and transmission, along with weight and very probably suspension changes. Most will be designed to improve economy but they will be co-designed to improve road manners and handling, I’m sure.

          I know that 25mpg is possible when driven sensibly on the highway but I also know that even dropping the speed to 55 could push that to 27 or higher. At 45 the Wrangler could probably crack 30, but nobody drives that slow anywhere but off-road. Right?

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            Fuel economy is simply not a priority. It’s not the point of the Wrangler.

            If you buy a Wrangler and complain about the millage, you should trade it in for a Cherokee.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Actually, Mandalorian, I intend to. Unless another specific type of rig comes available before June of next year, I will be trading my JKU Wrangler in on a Renegade for that 50% better economy and slightly smaller size.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          @hummer:

          The people who have bought Wranglers didn’t care about the mileage.

          There, fixed that for you.

          If they want to sell Wranglers to people who haven’t already bought one, then they’ll have to improve the MPGs.

          Of course, this is the kind of thinking that drives the blandification of everything…

    • 0 avatar
      nwa2014

      I don’t know about those upright windshields…there’s a couple rock chips on the windshield of my Ranger that says sloped windshields aren’t so bad

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Wouldn’t consider a ranger to have an upright windshield, at least not in the way the off-roaders have them. Good decent non-extreme slope for sure though.

        Thicker glass helps greatly at reducing road noise and strengthening the glass.

  • avatar
    Skink

    In his On Design column for Automobile magazine, Robert Cumberford decried the ‘tub toy’ look of the new Renegade. It lacked Jeepness, he said. Jeepness including a lack of compound curves, or at least bare minimal use thereof. He also hated the gratuitous curves on the tailgate and beltline. The Wrangler is the last and best exemplar of Jeepness.

    Now FCA wants to make Wrangler to not just be a bestseller, but to also better earn its keep on CAFE.

    Will FCA rake Wrankler’s windshield? Give it more curve? Remove external door hinges? Do wranglers still have hood clamps?

    FCA faces the question as to how much they can preserve Wrangler’s Jeepness while not so annoying and alienating future Wrangler buyers by improving aero.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Personally, I’d like to see the Renegade morph into a future Wrangler. Unlike Cumberford, I don’t dislike the Renegade in the least, though I do agree that as it sits it would be difficult to turn it into an open-top rock crawler. That said, while the original Willys was open topped, it was smaller than the Renegade and certainly not a rock crawler per se. A good roll cage design could easily replace the hard top while offering nearly the same BoF-style of rigidity of frame as the current Wrangler. By no means is such a redesign impossible. But, just like every new Wrangler/CJ before it and like every one we’re likely to see, so-called ‘purists’ will still say, “It’s not a real Jeep.” Whether you go back to the old CJ5, CJ7, Scrambler and yes, even the JK model, old-timers complained, “It’s not a real Jeep.”

      Strange thing though. In my own experience, TJ owners griped about the JK and swore the new model wouldn’t be capable of handling terrain they’ve had to lift their older models for. Even with my JKU, they said, “It won’t make it; you need a minimum of 2 inches of lift.” Over and over they said this, as that long-wheelbased giant (compared to theirs) took even their moderate trails without difficulty and with care worked their way into the red-classed trails where no other non-lifted rigs of any type–including full sized pickup trucks–could go without a winch or high-centering on rocks. Now, the JK and JKU are the standards by which Jeep trails are measured and which the Rubicon model is named after the toughest trail it can take–factory stock.

      Oh, I know. We’ve read about the Cherokee Trailhawk and even the new Renegade running parts of the Rubicon, but the Rubi itself can go the entire length of the trail. But the Renegade and the Cherokee are not meant for hard-core rock crawling. Honestly, I would not be surprised to hear of a Cherokee or Renegade taking the Black Bear Road on the other hand as that kind of trail — or rather road — is what they’re designed for. They’re off-pavement cruisers capable of going where no other vehicle their size can easily travel. Rovers, maybe. G-wagons, maybe. But they’re also up to three times the price for that capability

      • 0 avatar
        blueflame6

        I would bet that a Renegade Trailhawk is fully capable of getting any terrain that the majority of Wrangler owners ever drive on.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I would agree with you, which is why I was considering the Renegade. However, a new TTAC article has pointed out my #1 choice is now much closer to realization, despite all the negative commentary about the type’s eventual success or failure.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Personally I wish I could spin up Doc Brown’s Delorean just to see how Fiat sourced Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge models hold up in five years. If we’re wrong they do well, if we’re right they become basket cases which plague owners and resale.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Well, I get to find out first hand, 28-Cars; as I already have a Fiat 500 and right now the thing’s a blast to drive. It’s a lot peppier than you would expect for the tiny size of its non-turbo engine. Their reputation for reliability in Europe is pretty sound.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Reliability in Europe != reliability in the US unless the motors and platform are identical between the two, IMO.

            I’m a healthy skeptic, but I say five years at minimum to judge the overall package. 500 came out for MY12 so we’re getting there.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “just to see how Fiat sourced Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge models hold up in five years.”

            For its latest issue, my Charger is currently seeping glue from its window seals.

            I don’t even know what the dealer can do about that.

            People were ripping on GM quality a lot in the Grand Prix GTP junkyard find this week, but I’m guessing these people never owned a ChryslerCo vehicle because GM aces them (although I will say my Diplomat was okay).

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Well, 28-Cars, with certain, very limited exceptions, the Fiat 500 so far seems to be holding up well enough. Their depreciation so far seems no higher than average despite what Consumer Reports claims about it.

  • avatar
    carve

    I live in NM and take a lot of 85 mph road trips to the ski hill or backpacking, so I passed on the Wrangler due to highway mpg, even though it’s otherwise perfect for me. Strangely, my old ’95 Cherokee 5-spd gets about 20-21 mpg cruising at 80.

    The frustrating part is highway mpg would be trivial to improve by cleaning up the aerodynamics a bit

    1) Clean up the little stuff. Get rid of the exterior hood latches and hood windshield supports. Replace those elephant ear mirrors with small highway mirrors that you can fold out and double the size for trailer towing and off roading (or better yet, switch to cameras so you don’t knock them off) Put a door over the gas cap. But on an underbody tray that can be easily removed for the modification crowd. Extend the front fender to the top of the bumper with a flexible extension. Go with hidden gutters. Make the door hinges flush. Put the license plate on the bumper so it’s not hanging out in the airstream. This thing is a mess for no reason! This is easy stuff that won’t compromise performance or even the look very much.

    2) Big stuff. Add a little rake to the windshield, hood and grille, and have flush headlights. Some grille vents you don’t open until off-roading on a hot day would be nice, too. Widen the body a bit between the fender flares, and give the remaining flare a bit of a kamback. Taper in the back of the vehicle sides and roof for a slight kamback effect.

    • 0 avatar
      an innocent man

      So Jeep should build the Xterra?

    • 0 avatar
      woj1s

      “Strangely, my old ’95 Cherokee 5-spd gets about 20-21 mpg cruising at 80.”

      1995 Cherokee weighed 3100 lbs. 2014 Wrangler weighs 3800 lbs.
      1995 Cherokee had 130 HP. 2014 Wrangler has 285 HP.
      1995 Cherokee had 149 ft-lbs. 2014 Wrangler has 260 ft-lbs.

      Not strange at all.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Weight isn’t much of a factor at 80 mph, neither is peak power. As carve mentioned, it’s the aerodynamics.

      • 0 avatar
        carve

        Well, it’s about 3400 pounds with 190 hp/225 ft lbs out of a displacement similar to the current Wrangler (similar pumping losses), but that’s not what makes it strange because weight and power are smaller factors than aerodynamics and gearing at high speeds (which is why the 4 cyl Cherokee got about the same mpg). The strange part is the aerodynamics of the basic shape are almost as bad as the Wrangler, but the MPG isn’t too bad at that speed. They’re the same basic shape, the biggest difference being the Cherokee has less hangy-offy flares, mirrors and fasteners, which is why I suggested fixing that would be an easy improvement. This is also a vehicle designed over 30 years ago with an engine design based on something over 40 years old with fuel injection tacked on.

        The bottom line is if they cleaned up the aero on the Wrangler a bit, they’d have another sale with me and many others as well, and it really wouldn’t hurt performance.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Where can I put a deposit on an MY95?

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I think this is a happy medium, go after low hanging fruit with the aluminum. Now lets see them figure out how to make balljoints not disintegrate after 40k miles!

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “Now lets see them figure out how to make balljoints not disintegrate after 40k miles!”
      Wow! You must really work those ball joints hard. I’m at 70K and still on the original set.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    I love the way FCA is marketing this new Wrangler. They knew they would have a problem with the Jeep traditionalists (aka: those who don’t buy new but badmouth those who do), so they floated a bunch of wild ideas: independent suspension, all-aluminum, jellybean aero, unibody.

    Now they are progressively scaling-back those ideas through their PR machine, and the traditionalists are happy as pigs in ….mud.

    I’m convinced the new Wrangler has been locked-off for months. The only reason it isn’t coming-out sooner is because FCA still has lots of CAFE credits, and the current tooling is all paid-off (which means huge profits). They may as well run the printing press as long as they can.

  • avatar
    tylermattikow

    The Wrangler is a great seller because it is actually a pretty good value, while you can spend over 40k on one, you can buy a basic model unlimited for under 27k retail.. Not too bad for a trendy 4×4 with 300hp.. Combine that with a fantastic resale and the perception that it is so simple there is nothing to go wrong.. For the future, I could see adopting durable lightweight plastic panels to reduce weight and help fuel economy, in addition I suspect 4 cyl turbo and 9 speed automatics will be adopted. Hopefully a 7 speed manual since people actually buy manual Wranglers..

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I wince at the thought of people trying to do any sort of low speed rock crawling with the combination of the jerky 9 speed combined with a small turbocharged gas engine.

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    The changes are not going to be very radical. One area they could really improve would be interior comfort….the seats in my Wrangler are really terrible for a long trip. I think a small amount of aero improvements would be ok, but they if they fuck with the basic design it will only be to Jeep’s detriment.


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